He always made one stop before heading towards the "El" station where he caught his train downtown. It was to Manny's candy store on White Plains Road in the Bronx. Dad had Manny hold a copy of the New York Daily News newspaper for him to read on the trip to work. He would pay Manny a week ahead of time so he wouldn't lose a minute in the tightly choreographed dance of leaving our apartment at just the right time, spending a few seconds at Manny's, and then climbing several flights of stairs to the Gun Hill Road platform where he hoped he hadn't missed his train.
The newspaper was his link to the world. He would usually be able to grab a seat, and he would spend the next hour reading that newspaper from cover to cover.
He never missed a day of reading his newspaper.
Now, skip forward a generation.
Newspapers? My son (mid 20's) doesn't read them at all. I still do. But when I do, I am shocked at the errors I find. I'm not even a professional writer, or a professional proofreader. If I find the most obvious, how many more are there that I miss?
On Thursday, I was greeted by this headline for a local event: "PAST tour Saturdat looks at 'Mad Men'-era homes".
At first, I thought they had declared a new, eighth day of the week. I could use an additional day, especially if it is one where I don't have to go to my paying job. Just imagine the possibilities...
All those songs about Saturday night? Time to redo them, too.
But let's be serious for a moment. Why should I care if there is a typo in the local newspaper?
Because it HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.
I was brought up to believe that journalism is all about accuracy. Newspapers had an important function in our society. Doing investigative reporting. Getting "the scoop". Keeping us informed.
In our day, though, we depend on other media - media that seems to have turned news into entertainment. It's killing the newspaper industry, so they flail around, trying to find something, anything, to cling to. So far, the industry hasn't found its life line.
Sadly, so many people I know have given up on our local newspaper. How can you depend on a story being accurate if a newspaper can't even properly proofread their own stories and headlines?
Newspapers all over the country are dying, shutting their doors, laying off people who care about the written word. And meantime, they are consolidating operations. I suspect these errors are slipping through because there's a proofreader somewhere - let's say, in Asbury Park, New Jersey, who is now doing the proofreading for umpteen newspapers where, in the past, each paper did its own.
Or, worse - maybe that story was written by a robot.
No, I'm not in the news business. Never have been. But newspapers have been a part of my life from the moment I was born. I wish I had something concrete to suggest. I'm fresh out of ideas.
If my father was alive, he would be shaking his head. He loved his morning paper so much.
Will you be sorry to see newspapers go, if they do go? Or, do you think there is hope for them?